Police authorities in New Jersey and Northern Virginia are investigating into robocall bomb threats that prompted evacuation and lockdown of several schools on Friday.
Robocalls are automated phone calls that are becoming increasingly popular for bomb threats on schools in the U.S. Robocalls resulted in school evacuations and even lockdowns in January this year; however, none of these calls were credible.
On Friday, seven schools in the state of Northern Virginia received bomb threats via robocalls. Again, police found that none of the calls were true.
A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) says that the calls were mainly intended to disrupt school operations and none of its students are at any risk.
About a dozen schools in New Jersey also received bomb threats at about 11 a.m. on Friday, which affected thousands of students. The problem has become so severe that some police officials have decided to have a conference to discuss how to tackle the problem.
Apart from robocalls, the entire school district in Augusta, Maine, was also shut down on Friday as police authorities investigated a bomb threat received by email.
Amy Klinger, an assistant professor at Ashland University in Ohio, suggests that some Internet-based organizations are behind robocalls.
"Schools are really caught in this dilemma of what do we do? Do we ignore it? But you can't," says Klinger. "That's a really dangerous precedent to say we're just going to stop responding. So it's really kind of a Catch 22 that schools have found themselves in. We need to respond, but every time we do it just generates more threats."
In January, about 206 bomb threats were recorded nationwide. Klinger also revealed that so far in school year 2015-2016, a total of 745 bomb threats had been made against schools, which is an increase of 143 percent when compared to the same time period in the 2012-2013 school year.
One of the students said that she has grown tired of the increasing number of hoaxes that result in schools being evacuated.
"Apparently they're all pranks I don't know why you would even think that funny," said the student. "So annoying. You're just trying to get through the day and suddenly they tell us we're being evacuated."
It remains to be seen how authorities will manage robocalls and punish those responsible for the hoax that resulted in the evacuation of schools and unnecessary hassle to students.